17 February… I was born, Giuordano Bruno was burnt alive, and there are still people dying for their dreams
It was my birthday yesterday. 17 February was the day that Giurdano Bruno was burnt alive, Newsweek was published for the first time, and Sadeq Hedayat, the great Iranian author was born. I did want to become an author and publisher, following Hedayat and Newsweek; but I never dreamt that I would be following Bruno’s path one day. Now I am being virtually burnt alive for speaking up the truth, just like Bruno. I witnessed a crime and spoke up about it, and for that I was persecuted. Now, it has been three years since I last celebrated my birthday in my homeland, among my family and friends. It’s been three years since I last saw the vast desert and the ever-shining sun of my country, or spoke my mother language without feeling that I am speaking to myself.
But this is not important. Truth shall set us free. The thing that has been preoccupying me since yesterday, is the world we live in and the country we love so much, but does not love us back.
The Iran I miss so much does not exist anymore, it probably never did. It was an idea… not a reality. In the country I loved and never existed, the rulers wouldn’t open fire on their own people, people wouldn’t be tortured and killed for their ideas or words, the leaders did not aspire to become a militiary power at the expense of the freedom of their people, and children were happy, the youth looked forward to the future, the mature people looked at their young ones and smiled, and the old ones looked back and were happy that the world they were leaving was a world better than the world they were born into.
In the Iran that exists, just when I turn 41, there is a brave doctor in Iran’s notorious Evin prison who has been on hunger strike for 40 days and might die any day, and no one is doing anything to save him. There is a journalist who is being deprived of medical care and tied to his bed to die because of his heart condition. There is a web developer waiting in the death row to be hanged any day now, and no one is doing anything to stop the hangman from taking an innocent life. It’s a country where people are starving, because of the ambitions of the rulers. No one dares speak, no one dares try, no one dares live.
And then I look at the ‘world’ I am living in… no one is doing anything to stop the bloodshed. Children in Syria are being murdered, and the world is looking, shaking its head in sorrow, but not doing anything.
And then, I, the advocator of peace and non-violent resistance, think on my birthday, that what the world can do? Does raising war against a regime save innocent blood or shed even more blood? And if war is not the solution what is? What can we do to save Dr Mehdi Khazali from dying in the prison? What can we do to bring Neda’s murdurers to justice? What can we do to stop the bloodshed in Syria? What can we do to stop children dying in Somalia?
I don’t know. All I can do is to raise awareness, and to do what I can as an individual: Speak the truth even if it means death for myself, do not turn my face away from the atrocities in the world pretending that they are not happening, and dedicating part of my income to save a few starving or ill children.
How do we deal with Evil? How do we face a regime, armed to the teeth, rich from oil money, that follows no moral values and respects no international convention? A regime that has not the least respect for human life, for happiness, and for prosperity? How long can we remain silent? I hear from some people here that they have their own problems, there is a recession they are struggling with, and they have to think about the inflation. Why should they care or do anything about another nation’s problems? Why should they spend money to support someone else’s cause when their rulers don’t?
To me, an innocent life is more valuable than all the organizations and regimes and economies and governments in the world. The Security Council is worth nothing if it can not ensure the security of a single innocent person who dies in a prison, by a bullet, are from starving. There is enough food in the world to feed all the children starving and dying. There is enough room in the world for every one to have their say and fulfil their dreams.
Our lives as individuals are worth nothing if there is an innocent life being taken somewhere in the world, and we don’t care, and we turn our faces not to see, and we change our TV channels not to know. Think about it. When was it the last time you did something to save someone’s life? I’m not calling to arms, but when was the last time you wrote a single word on your facebook wall, trying to save an innocent life? If you don’t care, and if you care but don’t do anything about it, your life is a waste.
And on my birthday yesterday, I felt that my life has not been a waste. I cared, and I did something about it. And I have to not let myself fall into the mundane ordeals of everyday life and forget. Forget that there is world out there where innocent people are dying, and I am not doing anything about it…